Asking prices fall by just 0.8% in August to buyers' disappointment


House sellers' asking prices edged down only slightly in August, bringing an end to a trend seen over the previous seven years when buyers were able to snap up a property at a bargain price over the summer holidays.

A 0.8% or £2,258 month-on-month price fall took the average asking price to £292,284 across England and Wales, according to property website Rightmove.

It is the strongest price performance for the month of August since 2007, when there was a 0.6% increase in asking prices. Asking prices are now 6.4% higher than they were a year ago.

Rightmove put the more muted than usual price fall in August down to a shortage of new sellers combined with house hunters remaining active.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said: "The underlying shortage of property coming to market compared to buyer demand has helped to deliver the strongest August price performance since before the credit crunch.

"Buyers can normally pick up some bargains in August as sellers who are marketing their homes when they should be holidaying often have a pressing need to sell and mark their prices down pretty aggressively.

"At 0.8% down on the previous month, this is the least generous that sellers have had to be for eight years and a clear sign of upwards price pressure in the pipeline." 

Rightmove's research into why more sellers are not coming to market found the top reasons sellers are holding back are that they cannot find anywhere they want to buy, they are being put off by moving costs and that they cannot find a property they can afford.

Last week, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) highlighted a "vicious cycle", whereby the limited choice on offer is in turn putting would-be movers off putting their home on the market.

Rics said that the shortage of properties on the market worsened in July to its lowest levels since its records started in 1978, with about 47 properties for sale per surveyor.

For hesitant home owners who are undecided about coming to market because of a lack of choice, Mr Shipside continued: "Selling subject to contract before you try to buy sounds concerning to many, but with fewer properties for sale you need to have a buyer for your property or you will be treated as a less serious buyer yourself."

Rightmove's report showed that several areas of England and Wales saw sellers increase their asking prices in August, with a 1.2% increase recorded in the North East of England, a 0.5% rise in the North West of England and a 0.1% increase in the West Midlands.

In Wales, asking prices increased by 0.2% month-on-month, taking the average asking price there to £177,709.

Asking prices held steady in Yorkshire and the Humber with a 0% month-on-month change, while they fell by 1.2% in the East of England and the South East and by 1.4% in the East Midlands and the South West.

In London, asking prices fell by 1.3% month-on-month, taking the average asking price there to £606,826.

The Rightmove report also quoted the views of estate agents. Mark Manning, director of Manning Stainton in Leeds, Harrogate, Wetherby and Wakefield said: "In July the number of appraisals that we carried out was 21% higher than usual, so there's definitely a sense that there are a greater number of people who are considering selling, but not yet coming to market.

"With regards to stock level in the market it's not that there's no stock, it's just that when good property does come on the demand is so high that it's selling much more quickly than usual."

Alastair Hilton, manager of Winkworth in Chiswick, London, said: "We've seen strong demand and growth in prices in the past few months, especially for one and two bed flats ...

"Quite a few sellers in Chiswick are looking to trade up and move out of London, and when they're not able to find a suitable property this is having a knock-on effect on the flats they're selling, increasing the demand for the smaller properties further."